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Millennium Bridge

Foster & Partners © Chris Jones Photography
Competition | Past

​Millennium Bridge

The design of a new pedestrian bridge across the River Thames, between Bankside and St Pauls. This would create a direct link between the north and south side of the river, and encourage the revival of a long-neglected area of London.

Open Infrastructure

The scheme by Foster and Partners/Sir Anthony Caro/Ove Arup & Partners was announced as the overall winner.

Structurally, the bridge pushes the boundaries of technology. Spanning 320 metres, it is a very shallow suspension bridge. The bridge has a uniquely thin profile, forming a slender arc across the water, and spanning the greatest possible distance with the minimum means. A thick ribbon of steel by day, it is illuminated to form a glowing blade of light at night.

The bridge opened in June 2000 and an astonishing 100,000 people crossed it during the first weekend. However, under this heavy traffic the bridge exhibited greater than expected lateral movement, and as a result it was temporarily closed. Extensive research and testing revealed that this movement was caused by synchronised pedestrian footfall – a phenomenon of which little was previously known in the engineering world. The solution was to fit dampers discreetly beneath the deck to mitigate movement. This proved highly successful and the research undertaken by the engineers has resulted in changes to the codes for bridge building worldwide.

Hear more from George Ferguson, Past RIBA President on the competitions process.

  • RIBA Award 2003
  • Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) Murray Buxton Award
  • The British Construction Industry Civil Engineering Award 2003 – Shortlisted
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